Andrew McCullough's Blog

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Child welfare

Today an old friend called me out of concern, after the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) came to visit her. They were investigating a complaint of possible child abuse. I do not think they will find any evidence of such a thing there. But this incident, and perhaps even more, the drama that is unfolding among the FLDS community in Texas, prompts me to write about my own concerns of State involvement in the family. After many years of practicing law, it has become very apparent to me that the State (and not just Utah) is a little "trigger happy" about intervening in family matters, and removing children from the home. The headline in today's Salt Lake Tribune tells us that over 400 people have been removed from the FLDS community in Texas. And the subheading, quotes a State official that, while the removals are traumatic for the children, this is "in their best interest". Some of the stories of child abuse coming from this community would cause anyone concern. But the State of Texas has come in with SWAT teams, and hordes of police; and they have brought ambulances in anticipation of having to resort to violence to get into the FLDS Temple, and other sacred buildings. I am not any happier than anyone else about claims of child abuse; but my own experience has tausght me that State inteference with the family is its own form of child abuse.

Many of us remember the massive legal fight that the Utah Attorney General's offce had a few years ago over their move to take a young boy from his fmaily in order to forcibly medicate him. The family resisted, he was not forced to undergo the tratment, and he is doing fine. Our current Attorney General, in his candidate statement on the Salt Lake Tribune Politics webpage touts his efforts to protect children, and asks for four more years to do so. Unfortunately, those efforts sometimes include unfair and inappropriate interference with families. If you want the government to spend less time spying on you and interfering with your family, let's not give him four more years.


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